Menu Close
Marin Reljic
Doctoral candidate, first cohort (2017-2020)

Delirious Traces of Sound – Audio-Visual (Re)Configurations of the Socio-Critical Silent Film in the ZDF/ARTE Program

I examine new compositions of selected works from the ZDF/ARTE silent film program. On the basis of socially critical films, I would like to investigate the extent to which modern music subjects historical narratives to aesthetic and political configurations. Within a field of tension spanning more than 100 years of (cinema)history, my dissertation would therefore like to point out vulnerable fractures in the relationship between music and ideology.

The examination of the new compositions should therefore not be limited to a formal aesthetic description and systematization of the music, but should also examine them with regards to the cultural mediation strategies involved, as well as to their time-critical qualities and their relation to the present, under the premise that advanced music creates a supplementation, a transformation and/or reinterpretation, but in any case an allegorical relationship between the current and the past, of the conflicts and problems represented. It should become clear that

  1.  new facets of the symbolic, dramatic and metaphorical levels are wrested from the underlying narratives through music in a multimedia-organized semiotics of art and culture,
  2. the dialectical development of musical forms of mediation, which make a sociological or cultural-political context ontologically tangible, helps to question power paradigms critically,
  3. in the reflexive didactics of the reconstruction of historical silent films, opportunities for the effort for a musical-cultural education can be seen, which, within the framework of a pedagogical positioning, is interested in bringing out the reception behaviour and thus the respective positioning in a modified form.


From a cultural-critical point of view, the exploration of the above questions will at best enable a meaningful update of Adorno’s Compositions for the Films (together with Hans Eisler) as well as his  Philosophy of New Music by providing insight into the dialectical effectiveness of specific strategies of sound art on socially critical silent film.




Fig. 1:
Ich klage an (Regie: A. Gance, Frankreich 1919), DVD.
Fig. 2:
Fig. 3:
Die Weber (Regie F. Zelnik, Deutschland 1927), DVD.
Fig. 4:
Fig. 5:
Partitur, Thewes, Bernd: Die Gezeichneten, Konzertante Fassung; für Flöte, Violoncello, Klavier und Akkordeon, nach dem gleichnamigen Film von Carl Theodor Dreyer (1922) unter Verwendung von osteuropäisch-jüdischen und russischen Volksweisen, Mainz: Bernd Thewes Verlag 2009, S. 1.


Marin Reljic is a musicologist and art historian and currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Goethe University Frankfurt, where he was also a member of the first cohort of Ph.D. students of the Graduate Research Training Program “Configurations of Film”. Engaged with this cohort’s closing event, he was co-organizer of the online conference “Histories of Tacit Cinematic Knowledge”. He is a scholar at the “Gisela and Peter W. Schatt Foundation”. He also works as composer and filmmaker. Reljic is currently preparing a post-doc project (Working title: “(In)visible authors. Audio-Visual Concepts of Space, Time, Colour and Light in Contemporary Music Installations and Sound Art”) where he tries to examine from a musicological and film theoretical perspective the sensitive conjunctions emerging in strategies dealing with the present artistic combinations of aural, spatial, performative, projected, and illuminous fields with regards to new configurations of authorship.